What is a bunion?

Bunions are an unsightly deformation of the big toe joint that can sometimes cause pain. It is often thought that high heels or tight shoes cause bunions, but that isn’t always the case.

Structures affected by bunion formation

Joint below the big toe

Ligaments that support this joint

Surround muscles of the big toe and foot

What causes bunions to form?

Some common causes for bunions to form:

  • More than likely they’re hereditary – thanks Mum and Dad!
  • Tight footwear like high heels or ballet flats
  • Poor foot posture – having ‘flat feet’
  • Weakness and lack of strength to the muscles of the foot
At Sportsfit Physio and Health our podiatrist has years of experience and all the tools to ensure you get your FeetFit.


At your appointment, your podiatrist will take a comprehensive history to understand how the bunions have progressed, and whether they are painful or not. By observing your bunions your podiatrist will grade your bunions from stage-1 (mild) to stage-4 (severe) and then complete several assessments to determine the quality of movement, the remaining function of the big toe joint and the structures affected. This will lead to a better the outcome with management. Sometimes they will refer for an X-Ray to check for associated degeneration (arthritis).


Treatment modalities for bunions include:

  • accommodative and wider footwear
  • orthoses – prefabricated or custom-made
  • joint mobilisation
  • taping
  • night splints
  • strengthening and stretching exercises


If conservative management has been unsuccessful then a referral to a podiatric or orthopaedic surgeon will be the next point of action. Bunion surgery is a quite a complex procedure and definitely isn’t the first line of management!

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